According to a statement released after a meeting of the Academy’s Board of Governors, the organisation has “initiated disciplinary proceedings against Mr Smith for violations of the Academy’s Standards of Conduct, including inappropriate physical contact, abusive or threatening behaviour, and compromising the integrity of the Academy.”
During the Oscars event on Sunday, Rock joked about Jada Pinkett-Smith’s shaved head, a consequence of her medical condition alopecia areata, and said, “Jada, I love you. GI Jane 2, can’t wait to see it, all right?”
Smith took everyone by surprise by going up on stage and striking Rock across the face. He returned to his seat, and screamed, “Keep my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth.”
Soon, the incident started going viral on social media, with #WillAndChris trending on Twitter and most netizens calling out Smith’s action. Although the Academy released a statement, shortly after, disapproving of the act, some social media users noted that the Oscar curators did not step up to do anything as it was happening, let alone escorting Smith out of the event.
In its statement on Wednesday, the Academy clarified, “Things unfolded in a way we could not have anticipated. While we would like to clarify that Mr Smith was asked to leave the ceremony and refused, we also recognize we could have handled the situation differently.”
The Academy went on to apologise to Rock. “Mr Rock, we apologize to you for what you experienced on our stage and thank you for your resilience in that moment. We also apologize to our nominees, guests and viewers for what transpired during what should have been a celebratory event.”
Although Rock declined to file a police report, Smith’s actions have been called out by members of the industry and netizens alike.
Actor and comedian Jim Carrey recently said that had he been in Rock’s shoes, he would have slapped Smith with a lawsuit for $200 million.
Others, including Jimmy Kimmel, pointed out that Smith was initially smiling at Rock’s joke before suddenly going up on stage and assaulting the comedian.
Even though the actor apologised to Rock, a formal review of the incident was initiated by the Academy. Smith will be served a 15-day notice “of a vote regarding his violations and sanctions, and the opportunity to be heard beforehand by means of a written response,” the organisation’s statement added.
The next board meeting is scheduled to be held on April 18, and at that time, Smith might face disciplinary action in the form of suspension, expulsion, or other sanctions as per the Academy’s bylaws.